Claudette Ortiz – Automatic
Words and Interview by Tyrone Davis
Claudette Ortiz is best known as a member of the group, “City High”. She is currently on TV One’s reality show, “R&B Divas of L.A.” and has a new single called, “Automatic”.
Tell us a little bit about how you got started?
I was touring with/opening up for the Delfonics from the age of 14-15. I wrote songs with the other guys in the group (City High). We had the same manager. We then got with Wyclef and he set us up with is cousin, Jerry Wonda. He was responsible for a lot of hits that they had. After being singed with Interscope at 16, we toured for about 2 years and our first single came out, “What Would You Do?” and it was pretty successful.
I had been singing for as long as I can remember. I have recordings from when I was 4 years old. It wasn’t something I really thought about. I was always doing it. As far as professionally, all of those things just came about. I had a normal childhood up until my teenage years, when I started touring. I learned and saw things that the average teenager doesn’t learn nor see. It was very fast paced, difficult, and strange. It was even scary sometimes. I traveled the world though, which was amazing. That expanded my mind. It wasn’t terrible because I actually always stayed to myself and just watched things, which i still do now. I’m a very observant person so I pay attention to things before I involve myself in anything. It was a learning experience. I learned how to perform on stage, how to talk to people, and be a professional. I learned about business and all kinds of things so it gave me a lot of great attributes that I wouldn’t have had had I not been in the business.
You mentioned getting the opportunity to travel the world early in life. A lot of children don’t get to go anywhere and here in Indianapolis, just going to Atlanta is the “it” thing for a lot of people. How do you feel about the fans and the cultural differences between the United States and abroad?
Man, it’s night and day. All people are the same, but at the same time it’s extremely different. Depending on what country you go to, there are different values and different morals. Everything is different, from the food, to the vibe, to the languages. Sometimes when we’re stuck in one little town we think that that’s the whole world. It opens a whole new area in your brain that rarely gets tapped into when you stay in one place your whole life. It works for some people, they don’t want to travel, and that’s ok. It is amazing to be able to see the different sites God created. I think that everyone should at least go somewhere once in life.
One thing I noticed when I was in Germany at about 8 years old was the castles in Europe. They have a lot of nice landscapes and architecture.
And, it’s older over there. America is pretty young and you don’t realize it until you go overseas. They’ll say, “This was built in the 1600s” and you’ll say, “What!?!?” Lol, you know they pretty much destroyed all of the native american’s things that were here.
Are you still a chef?
I will always be a chef. I’m a chef at heart. At this point, I’m not doing it as a means to provide for my children. After City High, I got married. I had children. I was always doing music but I was no longer signed to Interscope so there wasn’t any money coming in from that profession. So, I had to step into other talents that I had to make a living. Being a chef was one of those things. I did do real estate as well. Then, the real estate market crashed, so that wasn’t doing so well either. I did have a few different business and I hosted parties, but all of that wasn’t lucrative enough to provide for my children after my divorce. My house got robbed and all kinds of things so things were going downhill for me at that point. I had the opportunity with the show and it turned things around for me. I’m very grateful for that and that’s why I’m going hard now. It’s either go hard or don’t do nothing at all.
What happened with you joining the Air Force?
Right before the show, I had the date and time that I was supposed to sign my oath and everything. Then, I got the call to be on the show (R&B Divas of L.A.) and I had to make a choice. I really didn’t know what to do, but I felt like longtermwise, the music thing wasn’t a good choice. That was because of the things that had went on in my life. After prayer and consulting with my friends and family, I decided to go ahead and do the show. It’s been a blessing. I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but I’m working towards it. It’s do or die, because I’m not trying to go back to the Air Force.
Tell us about “R&B Divas of L.A.” How is it being on the show?
It’s very interesting. It’s different. It’s fun. It’s a roller coaster ride and definitely nothing I thought I’d be a part of. It’s definitely a blessing. I think that it’s a professional environment, the way they film it. It’s definitely time consuming and can be challenging when you’re working with several different women with different lives and careers. Then, you throw us all together and we don’t really know each other until you start filming. That’s when you get to know each other. So, it can get crazy sometimes.
If you are working with someone in a new environment, it’s just you and those people. Here, you have you, those people, the cameramen, the sound men, the production assistant, the director, etc. There are all of these people involved so it’s not like you’re sitting having a normal conversation. There are a lot of people around, you have on microphones taped to you, etc. It’s very different. It’s not a normal conversation. It’s not a normal situation so things do get crazy sometimes. You just have to watch it.
It is almost like filming a movie. The only difference is there is no script. I never forget that the cameras aren’t there. I always feel like it’s not real. I don’t feel like I’m hanging out with my friends. I feel like I’m working. I can’t speak for all of the cast but for me, I’m always trying to make sure I don’t say something that will have my kids like, “Mommy, why’d you say this?” or if my mother watches. I’m careful about how I represent myself and I try to be as classy as possible no matter what but still have fun. I still try to enjoy myself at the same time and take in the whole experience.
What kind of advice could you give young girls on social media?
I would say not to expose yourself too much. You’re still just learning yourself and who you are. When you get older, these things will be on the internet forever. They never go away. 10-20 years from now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I shouldn’t have said this” or “I shouldn’t have put that out”. Don’t be too impulsive about the things you share. You want to have some things about yourself that are sacred and may just be for your mother, for your brother, or for your future husband, etc.
How can people get in contact with you?
All of my social media sites are Myclaudette.